Tuesday, December 24, 2013

2013: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

2013:
THE YEAR IN REVIEW
__________________________

Last Christmas, I never
could have guessed how
the next 12 months 
would play out. What 
roller coaster ride it
was — the year 2013.
__________________________

REWIND
I kicked off 2013 in Chattanooga, Tennessee last January —  freezing half to death while traveling on a southeast U.S. book signing tour with fellow author Brent Jensen, my 19-year-old son Jesse and our road manager, Flem. In July, I was serving as a (so-called) adult leader — overseeing a group of crazy teens while on a week-long summer youth camp retreat in Gainsville, Florida. By December, I was back in Nicaragua, working alongside 17 brave and mighty warriors on an eight-day missionary excursion.

Jesse and I preparing for a book signing
last January in Macon, Georgia.
But 2013 had more in store than just life-changing worldwide adventures. Along the way, I had to say "goodbye" to one of my closest friends — one of the greatest guys who I've ever been blessed to know. Dave lost his battle with cancer last Labor Day. I miss him terribly and this year's holiday season is noticeably less bright without him in my life. Catch ya on the other side, Pops! Also by year's end, my son Jesse had moved away from home — relocating from Florida to start his own life in Colorado. Saying "goodbye" to him sucked, too.

I did, however, manage to get some work done this year. I remained committed to creating consistent content. My blog continued to grow in popularity each month and I was blown away by the staggering numbers of folks who took the time to read my work in 2013 — THANK YOU!

My "Thrift Store Adventures" series
was a reader favorite in 2013.
*Photo: Michelle Wilson
And while I've got your attention, let's also take a minute or two and look back on some of my blog highlights from the worlds of music, movies, books, faith and fashion in 2013.

ON STAGE
I had the distinct pleasure of attending several amazing live theatrical performances this year. My favorite stage presentations of 2013 included the national touring production of Dreamgirls as well as hometown recreations of HairsprayThe Little Mermaid Jr. and The Sound of Music.

Mikayla Goetz and Connie Lyon Browning in 
The Sound of Music / Melbourne, FL / 12.22.13
*Photo: Michelle Wilson
I took in a slew of concerts in the last 12 months. Live performances from such rock heavyweights as Chicago and REO Speedwagon were among the most notable, while '80s chartbusters, Big Country, and blues icon, Buddy Guy, also proved to be HUGE highlights. But, perhaps my favorite event of the year was the live performance in Orlando last July by national touring troupe, The RockNRoll Chorus.

In Orlando with the cast members of
The Rockandroll Chorus. (July 2013)
*Photo: Joe Cantaffa
BOX OFFICE HITS (AND MISSES)
My 2013 box office experiences began in January with the F-bomb raid, blood-bath, Django Unchained. The season ended in December with a comedy treat — Anchorman 2. In between, I did see a couple of movies that delivered, including The Butler and The Internship. However, more often than not, I was disappointed by this year's crop of low-brow Hollywood blunders. You can read all of my 2013 movie reviews HERE


HOORAY:
Anchorman 2 DIDN'T suck!
BOOKS
I read a stack of engaging page-turners in 2013. Among the best were Jordan Redwood's nail-biter, Proof, and the early career-spanning KISS chronicle, Nothin' to Lose, by Ken Sharp with Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley. I also enjoyed a couple of powerful faith-based books, including Derek Grier's Another 60 Minutes of Wisdom and Corey Goolsby's Revival Devotional.

But my pick for 2013's "Book of the Year" is Creston Mapes' edge-of-your-seat thriller, Fear Has a Name. The Atlanta-based author had me reeled in completely last summer as I remained riveted — glued to my bar stool at Starbucks each morning for more than a week. The sequel, Poison Town, arrives in February 2014.



RECORDS
I also spent seemingly endless hours listening to new music in 2013. While the latest records from such iconic rockers as Sammy Hagar and Boston ranked among the year's mightiest clunkers, I did discover MANY gems. Here's my official Top Ten list of the absolute BEST in pop and rock for 2013...

10
KINGS OF LEON
Mechanical Bull

Read my official review HERE.


9
JEFF STANTON  
Circles 

Read my official review HERE.


8
NEIL YOUNG
Live at the
Cellar Door

Read Michelle Wilson's
official review HERE.


7
SARA GROVES
The Collection

Read my official review HERE.


6
NICHOLAS
Nicholas
Read my official review HERE.


5
TOM KEIFER
The Way Life Goes 

When Keifer's publicist denied my
request for a promo of his record,
I hoofed it over to Walmart and
bought my own darn copy. And
it's a good thing that I did, as it
was 2013's best rock release.
Read my official review HERE.


4
KIM
WALKER-SMITH
Still Believe 

Read my official review HERE.


3
SHE & HIM
Volume Three

Read my official review HERE.


2
HOLLY STARR
Focus

Released late in 2012, Focus
became publicized more widely
this year. Hence, I consider it
an honorary member of the
Class of 2013. Besides, it's
absolutely flippin' incredible!
Read my official review HERE.


1
TAL & ACACIA
Black and White

Falling stylistically somewhere
between Sgt. Pepper and Pet Sounds,
the sophomore effort from this
dynamic duo easily was the year's
overall best and grooviest record.
Read my official review HERE.

Finally, I recently revealed details regarding my next two book projects. Picking up where my second book C'MON! left off, my upcoming third book, SHOUT IT OUT LOUD: Stories of Fast Times and Faith, From the Show Biz Guru will be released on May 13, 2014. Currently in development, my fiction debut, SUPERSTAR tentatively is set for a 2016 release.

So there ya go — the year in review — at least in my world, anyway. I hope that your 2013 was equally memorable. And again, I thank everyone who stopped by and visited my site this year. Here's to an even bigger, better and brighter 2014!

-Christopher Long
(December 2013)


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2 comments:

  1. What? No love for the new Stryper and Queensryche? Loved Kings of Leon.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Greetings Mr. Telltale,

      I passed on reviewing the new Stryper record because, well... just because. As for Queensryche, I lost interest in them after "Rage for Order."

      I hope you are well, my friend. Thanks for weighing in. Let's catch up soon!

      -Chris

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